Wetheringsett: Company behind £100million biomass burner still “intend” to make planning appeal

Dr Andrew Toft, Director of Projects at Eco2 Ltd

Dr Andrew Toft, Director of Projects at Eco2 Ltd - Credit: Archant

Bosses behind proposals to construct a £100million biomass burner plant are maintaining it is still their intention to appeal a decision to reject the controversial plans.

Five months ago Mid Suffolk District Council dismissed the proposals for the development, in Wetheringsett, near Stowmarket, which had faced mounting criticism from some of Suffolk’s biggest food and farming businesses.

Minutes after the decision was made the company responsible, Eco2 Ltd, said it was “absolutely” going to appeal the decision.

In October the firm’s bosses said it remained their intention to launch an appeal, with the process set to start before the end of the year.

Since then there has been no updates on the appeal. When Eco2 was asked for news on the appeal, the company said its position remained unchanged from its October statement.

Henry Chevallier Guild, a partner of Aspall Cyder, based near Debenham, said his concerns over where the plant would be getting the straw to burn remained. He said transparency in farming and food businesses supply lines was crucial to being successful.

Jimmy Butler, a partner of Blythburgh Free Range Pork, has argued farmers could be forced out of business if the plant was built because of a lack of straw in the region.

“The problem has not gone away, the situation is identical,” he said.

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“Nobody wants it – the farming industry does not want it. We will fight it again without a shadow of a doubt.”

Around 240,000 tonnes of fuel – primarily straw but also wood chip – would be needed for the plant to remain operational 24-hours a day.

Eco2 said the plant would supply enough electricity for 65,000 homes and provide 200 jobs during its two-and-a-half-year construction time as well as 80 permanent positions.

In May the company vowed to work alongside a similar straw-powered plant in Snetterton, Norfolk, to avoid competing for supplies.

The district councillor at Mid Suffolk for Wetheringsett, Charles Tilbury, said: “It was clear from the planning meeting that their application was shot down with holes. I am hoping there will not be an appeal – there was a huge amount of local opposition.”

Dr Andrew Toft, director of projects for Eco2, said: “It remains our intention to appeal against the decision made by the planning committee on July 18. We expect to begin this process before the end of the year.”

The company has said it is “confident” there is more than enough straw and the plant will not “disrupt existing markets”.

Since the application was first put forward to Mid Suffolk in February 2012, the company has faced difficulty in getting it passed.

In July 2012 councillors chose to defer the plans to the committee, which met in July this year, because of late legal challenges. Eco2 has questioned whether the area is “open for business” as the plant would provide a “massive inward investment”.